“I’m not holding on” said a voice in my head.
The thought floated up like a gauzy smoke from the Caterpiller’s hookah in Alice in Wonderland.
I was sitting in silent meditation along with 349 other people on a five-day silent retreat last December.
No sooner did that declarative thought arise; another quickly followed.
“I’m not letting go.”
Ah, now this was curious, as both statements felt utterly true.
I noticed that these two seemingly opposite truths were what in Zen Buddhism is called a “koan.”
- “a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.”
I sat with the relative truth of both and peered into the space in-between and this is what emerged:
“I am being held.”
Ahhhhhhhhhhh. The awe of it.
At the end of the meditation period, I recalled a poem I read many years ago that captured this same truth. I looked it up when I returned home from retreat. It did indeed speak of this same experience of being held and charmingly was written by another Mary.
Footprints In the Sand
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you,
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”
Amidst intense chaos, change and conflict at present, I am heartened by the fact that I can seemingly hold on one moment and let go in the next. And when I get quiet, still and clear, “held-ness” was there all along.
Namaste my friends,
I named it El Corazon.
For my birthday last month, my 21 year-old son Maxwell gave me this glorious surprise ball. He went to a beautiful shop in Berkeley called The Tail of the Yak. The shop is a favorite of my sister Lisa and when Max started at UC Berkeley this fall as a junior studying English, we all visited the shop together.
Upon opening the gift, my sister commented that it was a surprise ball and they are typically filled with little trinkets rather like a pinata. She knows the artist, Anandamayi who creates them and suggested that I may not want to open it at all. I agreed. It was so beautiful, so I put it on display in a prominent place in my home office. And though it was clearly designed as a mango complete with a leaf on top, it looked to me like a heart, hence El Corazon. And there I thought it would stay.
A few weeks passed and I was preparing to facilitate a meeting on the topic of the power of receiving. The brilliant Amanda Owen had been the guest author at a women’s luncheon I sponsored last September and I was invited to present some thoughts on receiving at our December meeting for the Natural Healers, a networking group where I have been a member for the past four years.
As I was in the bathroom getting ready that morning, I had a flash of insight. As an intuitive coach and consultant, I have often shared that some of my clearest insights and profound images happen while I am brushing my teeth, or washing my face or putting on make-up. While the cognitive mind is pre-occupied, the intuitive mind is free to play.
Zing. Ping. Flash.
The image of El Corazon, the mango surprise ball, flashed in my mind with the phrase “we are made to be opened.”
I was moved. I was clear. We are the surprise balls and we are designed to be opened and share our humble trinkets with the world. I knew then that I would open El Corazon on new year’s eve as my year-end/year-beginning ritual.
And that’s what I did.
I am a master at seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary, an alchemist who can turn base metals into gold. In my work as a facilitator and teacher, I often say “I am the Rumpelstiltskin of Life Coaching – I can spin shit into gold.” And the truth is, I can. I use “shit” here, (my favorite swear word) instead of straw as the fairy tale goes, because often, shit is what we feel and see when the road gets rough and tumble. The truth is though, we get tunnel vision when things get tough and our peripheral vision narrows, almost to the point of blindness.
Through the symbolic, the ordinary day to day images, words, ideas and synchronicity, there is gold, upon gold, upon gold along that rough road. If we can see it. If we can see past our ideas of perfection and order and the outside looking complete…just like the surprise ball.
So, I knew that when I opened up my heart last night, when I opened up El Corazon, it would speak to me in my native tongue – intuition – fresh and new intuition. And I pleased to tell you, there was a magical message in there.
Setting the Stage
Important background information before we open up El Corazon.
My husband Drew and I have been through the financial wringer the past six years. I won’t tell that story today. I will leave that to another day. Another post. Suffice it to say that the collapse of our financial house became the very foundation for the birth of my business. Life literally took all my money away to shake me awake.
It did. And I am.
We are coming into what feels like the auspicious YEAR SEVEN of financial austerity. And I am done with it. My husband is done with it. We are ready to thrive. Note to self: we are thriving.
Boom. (I am feeling feisty and it feels good.)
Ok. To the background information. This past year ELEPHANTS have continued to be a symbol that has shown up again and again for both Drew and I. Just in this past month alone, I received fabulous elephant pj’s from my friend and coaching partner Keisha, Drew wanted and won the very clever “white elephant” nightlight in our family Christmas exchange last week and my sister Martha gave me a blue elephant-angel Christmas ornament. It was truly beginning to be uncanny. Really, I didn’t even tell you the half of it. So many elephants trumpeted into our lives this past year.
So, I said to Drew on Monday night this week, “I think the Elephant is to be our prosperity and abundance totem for 2015.” Remember, I have shared with you that I am the Queen of the Symbols and they often inspire me to action where other efforts fail. He agreed and I read out a few of the qualities and attributes of the elephant, i.e.commitment, strength and wisdom, ability to remove obstacles and barriers and in the Hindu culture, in the form of Ganesh, the god of luck, fortune and blessing on all new projects.
Brilliant. Inspiring. Motivating.
So, I take you now to last night at 11:11. Yes, that turns out to be the exact time on the clock when I happen to sit down with Drew to open up “my heart” to this new year.
As I pulled that first piece of colored crepe paper, Drew said to me, confident and clear, “there’s an elephant in there.” Note to self: Intuition runs in the family.
Opening – New Beginnings
I will not keep you in suspense because no sooner did he say that then I came upon the first object in the surprise ball, a pack of Smarties. Ok, I will keep you in a wee bit of suspense. I will admit, I was feeling a little uncertain of my decision to break-open this beautiful piece of artwork when the first gift was a cheap penny candy prize. Or it was life’s humorous little joke on me.
The elephant revealed itself in the very next layer, sitting aloft a field of green.
I liked the symbolism. I liked it a lot.
Turns out he was an “Ikea model.” It feels like Humpty-Dumpty in reverse as we took all the little pieces and put him together.
I liked it. I liked it a lot.
Ready to Go 2015
Each layer revealed a new item, the hummingbird sticker, the single-wrapped Swedish fish, the plastic white hen and star-stamped top. The final gift at the center of the mango was a tin of Fairy Rose mints.
And one final shot of all the treasures inside:
I will leave you with two additional pieces of the story that feel equal parts magical and poignant.
Max arrived home this morning and I shared with him my decision to open his gift along with the insight that we humans were designed to be opened. I then told him about his dad’s prediction that there was an elephant in there. He was genuinely giddy with excitement and so pleased to have been the one to have bestowed this gift upon me, indeed upon our whole family.
He shared that when he was in the shop on the day of my birthday, he was drawn to the mango. The saleswoman explained what they were and he was enchanted. It however was an investment for something so simple. I asked how much he had paid and he said $40. I felt my eyes well with tears that this young man, on a budget, would buy me something so frivolous and fun and play-full for my birthday. My very practical self was glad I didn’t know what he paid for it BEFORE I broke it open or I may have been tempted to leave it intact.
And I would have missed the call to open. I would have missed the message. I would have missed the gift.
And I wouldn’t have liked that. I wouldn’t have liked that one bit.
Final piece of the story. As I finished writing about the elephant symbolism and Lord Ganesh, I wrote “as I opened up my heart to this new year.” I realized that even though I have referred to the surprise ball as El Corazon – My Heart, it is actually a mango. So, I was curious to know the symbolic meaning of the mango. So I googled. And here is what I found.
“Mango: Food of the Gods! It is symbolic of love and fertility for Hindus, and is seen as a symbol of attainment when being held by Lord Ganesh.”
And I liked it. I liked it a lot.
All the brilliant layers – One surprise at a time
So, I invite you on this first day, of this new year, to recognize that you too are “made to be opened” – all of you. And those glorious colored layers inside you, each vulnerable and precious prize, is there when you are ready to open your heart.
Your El Corazon.
I like that. I like that a lot.
Tracking Intuition Tip #3
Intuition is not an idea, it’s an experience.
“Briefly, intuition, so viewed, is taken to be an integral process of the mind, which culminates in an act of insight. The process involves reasoning, but the insight in which the process culminates does not. Intuition, is not a form of knowledge; rather it is only one means to knowledge which together with reason, sense-experience, and revelation (in the Heideggerian sense) make possible knowledge and understanding.” – Hope K. Fitz, Intuition: Its Nature and Uses In Human Experience.
There is a wonderful quote by Jonathan Ellerby that says “inspiration is not an idea, it is an experience.” I think the same may be said for intuition.
In my work as an intuitive coach and consultant, I am often asked questions about developing intuition. I tell people, and this comes directly from my own experience, we lose touch with our innate intuitive ability when we get stuck in the idea of intuition instead of the experience of intuition.
It’s that simple.
So, let’s begin there with how one experiences intuition and then exercises these mind, body and soul muscles. I like the phrase sense-experience. In The Intuitive Gym, my intuitive development program, we create the sense-experience each week as a model for practicing the art and science of intuition.
And intuition, like art or medicine for that matter, takes practice; a lifetime of practice. Begin that new life today with your fresh intuition. As the Ellerby quote suggests, begin by expanding your knowing about the world, YOUR world, through exercising your senses. Intuition isn’t static – like a noun waiting to be defined by others. Intuition is a living-breathing verb and is an invaluable tool and way of being – not just a way of thinking.
Drop your story. Your idea about being intuitive or not being intuitive, or your pre-conceived judgments won’t bring you closer to your intuitive sense. Time to conceive of an intelligent-intuitive YOU. I know it feels riskier, but I guarantee you, it is a high-octane fuel that will empower your life in unimaginable ways. Time to imagine it.
And that is what tracking intuition is about – feeling, sensing and navigating with new insights and awareness. So, discover the character of your intuition by its actions, by the inspired insights that come through the use of your senses…all six of them.
Up next in the Sense and Synchronicity Mini-Series:
Tracking Intuition Tip #4
Listen When You Speak: What You Say Makes A Lot Of Sense